The Reforge Retention + Engagement Series is a selective 8-week part time program for B2C and B2B growth practitioners starting in February 2018. You can participate in the program from any location.
Led by growth practitioners Brian Balfour (formerly VP Growth @ HubSpot) and co-host Andrew Chen (Growth @ Uber), the Retention + Engagement Series is produced in collaboration with Shaun Clowes (VP Growth @ Metromile and former Head of Growth @ Atlassian) and Casey Winters (former Growth @Pinterest and Grubhub).
In this Series, you will learn actionable frameworks for analyzing and improving retention and engagement to help you accelerate the growth of your product and further your career.
In addition to the in depth learning material and case studies, the Series includes interviews and Q&A with top product leaders at Google, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Slack, Survey Monkey and other top companies, sharing how they used advanced retention and engagement strategies to drive growth.
This program is designed to provide you with a foundation of advanced principles of retention and engagement, and to help you build meaningful relationships with other top growth practitioners from companies including Facebook, Hubspot, Airbnb, Segment, Google, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Evernote and others.
Brian Balfour is the Founder and CEO of Reforge. Prior to Reforge, he was the VP Growth @ HubSpot, an EIR @ Trinity Ventures and founder of Boundless Learning (acq by Valore) and Viximo (acq by Tapjoy). He advises companies including Blue Bottle Coffee, Gametime, and Help Scout on growth and customer acquisition.
Casey Winters is a Growth Advisor in Residence at Greylock Partners. Previously, he was a Growth Lead at Pinterest and the first marketer at GrubHub. He advises companies including Tinder, Eventbrite, Reddit, Canva, Pocket, and others on scaling and growth, specializing in retention and engagement.
Shaun Clowes is the Vice President of Product Management at Metromile and was previously the Head of Growth at Atlassian. At Atlassian, he built the growth team from scratch to almost 50 team members strong. His approach to growth focuses on activation and retention with an emphasis on the thinking, processes and discipline necessary to grow through product features and engagement.
Andrew Chen works on Growth @ Uber. He is an advisor and investor in tech startups including AngelList, Dropbox, Barkbox, Kiva, and Product Hunt. He writes extensively with over 650+ essays, and has been quoted in The New York Times, Fortune, Wired, and WSJ. Previously he worked in venture capital at Mohr Davidow Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based firm with $2B under management.
All Reforge programs incorporate interviews from top growth leaders. We are still confirming the guests for the Retention and Engagement Series. Past guests include the following...
CMO @ ClassPass
Head of Growth @ Stripe
VP Growth & Marketing @ Duolingo
Former VP Mrk @ SoFi/LogMeIn
VP Growth @ Ipsy
Sr Dir Growth Marketing @ SurveyMonkey
VP Product/Growth @ Wealthfront
SVP Growth @ Malwarebytes, Former SurveyMonkey
VP Growth & Marketing @ Patreon
Eng Manager, Growth @ Dropbox
ADA CHEN REKHI
Former SVP Mrktg @ SurveyMonkey
Growth @ Slack
And Many More...
Retention + Engagement Program Outline
The following dates and details are subject to change as we finalize logistics towards the start of the program. We've designed the Retention + Engagement Series so you can set your own schedule to work through the material week after week. There are two weekly events: an online discussion and for participants in the SF Bay Area, we have an in-person event. They cover the same material each week, so if you're local, you'll only need to decide on one of these two weekly events.
Laying The Groundwork
In the first week we'll lay the groundwork for success for the rest of the program. You'll get a sample of the weeks to come, connect with other growth practitioners and most importantly we'll clear up the most common misconceptions around retention and engagement.
Online Kickoff: Wednesday Feb 7 at 8:30 am PT
In-Person Kickoff (SF): Wednesday Feb 7 at 6 pm PT
How do you properly define retention for you product and audience? How do you look at retention between different segments? How do you break retention down and analyze each component? How does retention influence the rest of your growth model? The answers to these questions form the key tools you'll use to build a sustainable retention strategy. We'll look at through the lens of both qualitative and quantitative frameworks.
Online Event: Wednesday Feb 14 at 8:30 am PT, Featured Guest TBA
In-Person Event (SF): Wednesday Feb 14 at 6:30 pm PT, Featured Guest TBA
Activation: Defining, Measuring, and analyzing
Activation is step one to Retention and Engagement. In this module we'll answer questions such as: How do I define and verify my activation moment and metric? How does activation effect my overall retention? How do I systematically analyze and break down Activation? What are the most common mistakes practitioners make when working on Activation?
Online Event: Wednesday Feb 21 at 8:30 am PT, Featured Guest TBA
In-Person Event (SF): Wednesday Feb 21 at 6:30 pm PT, Featured Guest TBA
activation: strategies To Improve
In this module, we'll look at how to build an activation strategy that's tailored to your product and business model, and that evolves as both continue to grow. We'll answer questions such as why do so many activation flow fail to retain users? How do you use emails, notifications, and incentives to motivate activation...and when to avoid it? How do I systematically improve the activation experience?
Online Event: Wednesday Feb 28 at 8:30 am PT, Featured Guest TBA
In-Person Event (SF): Wednesday Feb 28 at 6:30 pm PT, Featured Guest TBA
Engagement: Defining, measuring, and analyzing
Retention is nothing if you don't have engagement. In this week we'll explore questions like how to define your engagement metrics? How do I determine the natural depth of engagement? How do I analyze engagement data to find areas of opportunity? When does it make sense to focus on increasing engagement?
Online Event: Wednesday Mar 7 at 8:30 am PT, Featured Guest TBA
In Person Event (SF): Wednesday Mar 7 at 6:30 pm PT, Featured Guest TBA
"Just build a great product!" won't guarantee user engagement and long-term retention. This module is dedicated to identifying the different approaches to increasing engagement and constructing an engagement strategy that fits your natural user lifecycle. We'll answer questions like how can I move a user from low to high engagement? How do I know when to use what strategy? How do I model the effects of engagement improvements and lifts on retention?
Online Event: Wednesday Mar 14 at 8:30 am PT, Featured Guest TBA
In Person Event (SF): Wednesday Mar 14 at 6:30pm PT, Featured Guest TBA
Churn prediction + Resurrection
What about users who have already fallen dormant? In this module, you'll learn how to define resurrection for your product, and how to quantitatively evaluate resurrection opportunities. You'll learn about how to identify leading indicators of churn, how to prevent users from going dormant, how to model out the impact of resurecction strategies, and much more.
Online Event: Wednesday Mar 21 at 8:30 am PT, Featured Guest TBA
In Person Event (SF): Wednesday Mar 21 at 6:30pm PT, Featured Guest TBA
This week is dedicated to mapping and building out strategies to resurrect dormant users. We'll also look at winning resurrection strategies from companies that have successfully reactivated dormant or churned users. You'll learn about how to segment dormant users and align different strategies, when and how to employ people/incentives to resurrect users, and best practices around product and notification strategies.
Online Event: Wednesday Mar 28 at 8:30 am PT, Featured Guest TBA
In Person Event (SF): Wednesday Mar 28 at 6:30 pm PT, Featured Guest TBA
Our program wraps on March 30.
Reforge is dedicated to the frameworks and principles that build a long-term foundation for continued professional advancement. Our programs do not focus on tips, tricks, and hacks. Instead, we aim to provide you with:
1. Comprehensive Foundation
By the end of the program, you will walk away with a comprehensive foundation that you can apply to almost any B2C or B2B software company.
2. Strategic and Actionable Frameworks
If you want a laundry list of tactics like "send cart abandonment emails on Thursdays" this program isn't for you.
Instead, this program enables you with a set of actionable frameworks that you can apply to your own business and product. Our goal is to teach you how to think about the core elements of retention and engagement so that you can develop a winning strategy specific to your current and future companies and roles.
3. Build Productive Relationships With Other Top Practitioners
There is nothing more valuable than having a strong network of other top people in growth that you can learn from. We review every application to curate a high-quality group of practitioners, and we structure the program for you to build productive relationships throughout your time with Reforge.
Our goal is to help you build a network that will live with you far beyond the 8 weeks of this program. The Reforge Alumni community is active and connected, and includes growth practitioners from top companies defining the technology landscape of today and tomorrow.
Participants and Alumni are changing how growth is done at companies including Facebook, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Airbnb, SurveyMonkey, Spotify, Atlassian, Google, and more.
4. Examples, Knowledge, and Inspiration From Top Growth Leaders
A lot of the best knowledge is still trapped in the heads of the world's top growth leaders, and the best lessons aren't shared through blog posts or panels.
We've cultivated exclusive access to this knowledge and bring it to life through stories and lessons that haven't previously been shared publicly. Our growth leaders are at the forefront of Google, Instagram, Slack, SurveyMonkey, HubSpot, Atlassian, Wealthfront, and other companies leading innovation in growth.
5. Bring Growth Mindset and Practices Back to Your Product and Company
Meaningful growth doesn't happen in a vacuum, or from one individual growth practitioner, no matter how expert they are.
That's why we dedicate lecture material, interviews and expert Q&As to tackling the challenges of socializing growth within your organization. Our goal is to help you maximize the value that both you and the rest of your company yields from your Reforge experience.
Our programs aren't for everyone. We select applicants based on professional experience, initiative, and program fit. You should apply if you have...
- 3+ Years of Experience - 3+ years of professional experience as a product manager, marketer, designer, engineer or other professional looking to accelerate your knowledge about retention and engagement.
- Strong Initiative - The program includes both passive and active participation. Those that not only consume the content but engage with it and the community will get the most value.
- Growth Related Role - The topics we cover aren’t for every role. Typical roles of successful applicants are a Product Manager, Sr. Marketer, Data Analyst, Engineer, or Executive working on growth initiatives or making the transition to growth.
This program is not for you if you are...
- Entry Level - Less than three years of professional experience. The program material assumes a certain level of base knowledge.
- Career Switching - If you are looking to get your first job in growth. The program material is designed to help accelerate an existing professional's path rather than establish one anew.
- Pre Product-Market Fit - If you are working on a product that is just getting started. The program material is designed for those working on products that have signals of product-market fit.
- Enterprise/Hardware - If you are in a company that primarily sells enterprise deals or primarily a hardware product. The program material is not designed to address these topics.
The program can be done from any location. We focus on delivering the highest amount of impact as efficiently as possible. We know your time is valuable, so we've streamlined a program that cuts straight to the point with no "filler content."
There are 3 core parts to all of our programs:
1. Weekly In-Depth Lecture Material
Each week there is a 1 to 2 hours of video and written material on the weekly topic. All of the material is taught by Brian Balfour and was created by Brian, Casey Winters, Shaun Clowes, and Andrew Chen.
The lectures are comprised of original material exclusive to the Reforge Program. The video lectures will be hosted on the Reforge website and available for you to watch at any time during the week and as reference material after the program.
Each lecture is accompanied by application sections designed to guide your application of the material you learn to your own product or company. You'll receive feedback from other experienced practitioners in the community for additional ideas and learning.
2. Examples + Case Studies
To complement lecture material, we weave in examples and case studies applying the frameworks from the lecture to recent companies such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Slack, and more.
3. Weekly Events (Online or Offline) w/ Discussion Groups + Expert Interview
A key part of the Reforge experience is connecting with other top growth practitioners via weekly events, both online or in person (SF only). The program can be done from any location.
We start the events with small discussion groups where you will apply the material to a hypothetical case with peers in similar roles/companies. All events require your active participation.
We end the events with an interview with a top growth leader. All of our featured guests are leading active practitioners in the field of growth. Examples of past featured guests include Andy Johns (VP Growth/Product @ Wealthfront), Ken Rudin (Head of Growth @ Google), Naomi Pilosof Ionita, former VP Growth and Monetization @ Invoice2Go and formerly Evernote, Matt Plotke, Head of Growth @ Stripe and formerly LinkedIn, John Egan, Growth Engineering @ Pinterest, Ada Chen Rekhi, former SVP Marketing @ SurveyMonkey and formerly LinkedIn, Elena Verna, VP Growth @ MalwareBytes and former VP Growth at SurveyMonkey, Fareed Mosavat, Growth @ Slack, and many others.
One of the most common questions we hear about the Growth Series has to do with the time and effort required to get the most out of the program?
While all Reforge programs are designed to fit with your current work and personal schedule, we also believe that you get out what you put in. The value that you and your company get from the program is directly correlated with the amount of time and participation you're able to dedicate to the experience.
We've designed our programs to be a time-effective experience that condenses decades of collective expertise into 8 weeks. To get the most out of the program, you should expect to spend a minimum of 5 hours per week on program material:
- 1 - 2hrs on lecture content.
- 1 hr applying the frameworks and preparing for the discussion groups.
- 1 - 2hrs participating in an online or in person event.
Our most successful participants set aside additional time each week to connect with other people, review what they learned with co-workers and managers, apply the material to their product, and go over bonus material, spending up to 8 hours per week total.
PRODUCT MARKETING MANAGER, GROWTH
The Growth Series got me thinking on a macro level about how a company functions and the different levers my team can impact to make a true difference.
I was able to network with people from many companies I admire, and I learned from their challenges (many of which were similar to my own).
Overall, it was hard but rewarding. It felt like being in a mini MBA program -- the material came at us quickly but the discussions were lively and motivating. I'm going through the material over and over now that the course has ended!
"The content was excellent. Even though I work on a growth team at Facebook, I still learned new concepts that I implemented right away.
I focus my work specifically on developer growth, and based on the course content, I improved how we build growth loops into our developer acquisition channels. Overall, the course made me adopt a more robust way of instrumenting, logging, and tracking our funnel.
Beyond the content, I met so many growth people through the events - the program is a powerful growth network that I'm excited to be a part of."
Director, platforms & publisheR marketing
I was very impressed with the depth and structure of the content and discussions. I left each session of the Growth Series with newfound knowledge, ideas, and real strategies I could begin working on the next morning.
The case studies, real-life examples and discussions with seasoned growth leaders rapidly took each week's content from theory to application. While the concepts are powerful in the abstract, actually applying them or hearing how others applied them takes the learning to a whole new level.
I was a bit worried it would be too much about virality and "hacking" growth, which most of us can't apply in our businesses (especially here at Google). To my surprise, the topics provided coverage of all aspects of growth -- from business strategy and pricing, to user psychology, paid acquisition, activation, retention and more. None of this was "hacky."
"I strongly, as strongly as possible, encourage product managers in Growth roles to apply for Reforge. This program is the holy grail for Growth professionals who may be one of the few members of their organization tackling growth models and AB testing. With Reforge you find your peer set who share best practices and insights onto the responsibilities and goals of their Growth teams. In addition, the robust online content puts structure around the many concepts floating around tech companies and blogs on what Growth actually entails! I can’t thank the team enough for building such a comprehensive program – Reforge shaped the foundation of how I will approach the Growth team at SurveyMonkey."
SR. PRODUCT MARKETING MANAGER
"Thanks to the Reforge Summer Growth Series, I have gained a foundational understanding of one of the newest and yet most valuable areas of understanding to companies: growth. Brian and Andrew have done an incredible job of pooling and delivering knowledge acquired by industry leaders through extremely accessible content. The in-person get-togethers and online community also provide a terrific forum for idea exchange amongst all participants. I highly recommend this course to any individual who is looking to gain widespread adoption of their product or service."
Frequently Asked Questions
I'm not located in the San Francisco Bay Area, can I attend the program?
Yes. All of our programs are designed to be location-independent, with over 50% of program participants joining from outside the SF Bay Area. In addition to our all-online original content and live online events, we also offer in-person events in San Francisco, that all participants are welcome to join, whether you're local or traveling in. All participants enjoy access to 100% of our original content, our live online discussions, the private Reforge forums, and community. Please make sure you can attend the event times stated above in the program outline.
How does the Retention and Engagement Series differ from the Growth Series?
The Reforge Growth Series provides a comprehensive overview of all the major topics in growth, from your core growth model to your acquisition and monetization strategies. We dedicate one week to the topic of retention and engagement during the Growth Series program.
By contrast, the Retention + Engagement Series is an in-depth exploration of everything within the specific category of retention and engagement. Each week covers a different aspect of retention in fine detail.
If you've already completed the Reforge Growth Series, then think of this as a "201" on just the specifics around retention and engagement. There is only a 10% overlap in material between each program. See each schedule of topics below.
Retention + Engagement
Virality + NFX
Can I join both the Growth Series and the Retention + Engagement Series?
Both the Growth Series and the Retention + Engagement Series are held concurrently, so it’s not possible to join both at the same time. We will be holding additional cohorts of each program throughout the year, and you can get notified about future programs here.
How many applicants get invited?
In previous programs, we've accepted 12% of applicants, though this varies program to program. Rather than focus on an acceptance rate, we focus on ensuring the best possible experience by curating an engaged and high-quality group of people whose backgrounds and goals are a strong fit for the program material, in a class size that's intimate enough to facilitate some of the most memorable relationships of your career.
How do we choose whom to invite?
We want to make sure if you take the time to participate that it is more than worth it. Unfortunately we can't cover every topic for every person in one program. As a result, our application process screens for three things. One, fit with the program material. Two, curating fit with the other program attendees. Three, your work experience (3+ years is required).
How advanced is the material?
This program is not a fit for beginners. As with Brian's, Casey's, and Andrew's public essays, the program is focused on practitioners who already know the basics and are figuring out how to take the next step. The content will be intermediate to advanced. We assume that you know about A/B testing, ad buying, etc. We do not cover tips, tricks, hacks, or tactics. Instead, we provide strategies and frameworks that enable you to solve growth challenges specific to your situation.
How much time should I expect to spend on the program?
Please see more details in the Time Commitment section above. Our programs represent decades of collective expertise in growth. To get the most out of this condensed "8 years in 8 weeks" experience, you should expect to spend at minimum 5 hours per week on program material and event attendance. That said, our most successful participants set aside dedicated time each week to stay current with lecture material, connect with other participants and growth leaders at online and offline events, and complete interactive activities -- spending up to 8 hours or more per week.
While the Retention + Engagement Series is designed to fit with your current work and personal schedule, we also believe that you get out what you put in. The value you and your company get from the program is directly correlated with the amount of recurring time and participation you're able to dedicate to the experience.
What will be the cost for the program?
Price is $3495 for an individual seat. The Group Rate for teams of 3+ is $2995 per seat. If you are a Reforge alum you will receive the group rate as an individual. If you need an invoice or any other materials to expense to your company we will provide that at the time of payment. Aside from the Group Rate, there are no additional discounts or scholarships available at this time.
Is this right for very early product teams seeking initial traction?
No. The best use of your time is to find product/market fit and build your initial business before you spend too much time on growth. If you are at or past product/market fit, then you will get a lot of value out of this program.
How actionable will the content be?
The content will provide actionable and analytical frameworks for understanding growth and forming a comprehensive strategy. But there will be minimal “how to” content on topics such as setting up landing pages, buying ads, etc. Those can be found on many other great sites free of charge.
In what timezone will the live online events be held?
We offer our live online events in the mornings, Pacific Time. If you can't join during that time, all sessions are recorded, and our community and online discussion forums provide global time zone coverage. It is possible to attend the program 100% remotely and asynchronously.
How much of the material is about SaaS/B2B versus B2C?
There is a balance of both B2B and B2C coverage in all of our weekly materials. Many of the frameworks apply to both given that “consumerization of enterprise” is now real. Please note, however, that there won't be direct material on enterprise sales or acquiring enterprise customers, although it may come up in Q&A.
Will I get access to the material after the program is over?
Yes, participants will retain access for a period of one year from the start of the program. After one year there will be ways to keep access and receive updates to the material.
Who will lead the events?
All of the events (both online and offline) will be led by Brian, Andrew, Casey, or Shaun and sometimes a combination.
Are the in person events live streamed?
No. The format we use does not lend itself well to recording. The events are designed to attend one per week (online or in person). Both online and in person events follow the same format with the same exercises so you won't miss out on any content or learnings if you can not attend in person.